South Africa postpones reopening of schools over safety concerns

Pupils from grades 7 and 12 who were scheduled to return on Monday will now resume their studies on June 8, officials said.
The robotics teacher Chamu Mawiri, explains to his pupils the work and lessons they have to learn and work on during the Robotics and Coding Club Meeting at the Sedi-Laka Primary School in Ivory Park on September 12, 2108, in Johannesburg. – Students from the Mikateka Primary School, PS Tsosane Primary School, DR Mathole Motshekga Primary School and Sedi-Laka Primary school meet for a robotics and coding club proved to be very popular as an extracurricular activities at township schools in Gauteng. This initiative helps to provide, both teachers and learners, with important skills in the increasingly digital world and economy. (Photo by WIKUS DE WET / AFP)

The South African government has postponed the reopening of schools by one week to enable teachers to prepare facilities for the return of students.

Pupils from grades 7 and 12 who were scheduled to return on Monday will now resume their studies on June 8, the Basic Education Department said in a statement Sunday.

Schools have been closed since late March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan for grades 7 and 12, the last years of primary and secondary school respectively, to return on Monday backfired after teachers’ unions and governing associations urged school staff to defy the government order, saying schools did not have protective equipment (PPE) to keep educators and pupils safe, a Reuters report said.

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The department said its decision followed three reports by industry players that raised concerns about the state of readiness.

“The Council of Education Ministers was concerned that, in some provinces, personal protective equipment for learners in particular had not been received and some schools had not been made ready for the arrival of teachers and learners,” it said.

On Monday schools will reopen only for management teams, teachers and non-teaching staff for instruction on health and safety measures, to finish cleaning and focus on supply chain matters.

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